Seeking to Understand Revelation

Bible and Book of Mormon

One of the Come, Follow Me “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” for the week of December 23-29, 2019 explains: “Some people have cited Revelation 22:18-19 as a reason to reject the Book of Mormon and other latter-day scripture.” The manual clarifies that most biblical scholars acknowledge that a number of New Testament “books” were written after John wrote Revelation and that the Holy Bible was non-existent when John’s closing verses were written (see: Jeffrey R. Holland, “My Words ... Never Cease,” Ensign, May 2008).

Such evidence suggests that additional scriptural texts could and should be added. As God told Moses: “For my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease” (Moses 1:4). An additional insight is that just as Abraham was “chosen before [he was] born” (Abraham 3:23), so was the Apostle John foreordained to fulfill God’s individual mission to write the masterpiece of prophecies contained in the book of Revelation. This is an insight that the Book of Mormon adds about the Apostle John.

Book of Mormon Prophets Foresaw Future Biblical Events

Approximately 600 years before the birth of Jesus, a young Nephi prayed to know whether the dreams, prophecies, and exhortations of his father (Lehi) were true. Nephi testifies that he “was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord” (1 Nephi 11:1).

Lehi's dream

In a vision he beheld the same dream as his father about the tree of life, along with an interpretation of its symbols, and he also sees the birth, baptism, ministry, and crucifixion of the Lamb of God as well as the call and ministry of the twelve apostles (1 Nephi 11:13-36). He then sees the land of promise that his family will inherit, that some will remain righteous but many will dwindle in unbelief, that Christ will minister in ancient America and call twelve disciples there, and that Nephi’s posterity will be destroyed during a complete apostasy (1 Nephi 12). Next, he sees the apostasy among the Gentiles, the colonizing of America, the loss of many plain and precious parts from the Bible, as well as the restoration of the gospel and publication of latter-day scriptures (1 Nephi 13). Nephi sees the growth of small numbers of Latter-day Saints who belonged to restored Church of Jesus Christ and were “armed with righteousness and with power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14) as they preached the gospel even though they faced “wars and rumors of wars among all the nations” (1 Nephi 14:16). These revelations and visions show that God is an all-knowing God: “For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it” (2 Nephi 9:20).

Nephi Foresees the Ministry of the Apostle John

Nephi is next able to look into the future and see “One of the twelve apostles of the lamb” (1 Nephi 14:20). Nephi is told: “Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea, and also many things which have been. And he shall also write concerning the end of the world” (1 Nephi 14:21-22). Then, Nephi is counselled, “But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them” (1 Nephi 14:25). It is also revealed to Nephi that, “the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John” (1 Nephi 14:27).

last supper

What Nephi was instructed not to do concerning the subsequent visions that he saw coincides exactly with John’s concluding warning about his Revelation: “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19). Nephi’s writings, the Book of Mormon, and Latter-day revelations do not add to or detract a single word to the specific Revelation that the Apostle John was foreordained to write.

Does Everyone Have a Foreordained Mission in Life?

One clear indicator that we do have a divine mission in life is suggested in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World: “In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life” (Ensign, May 2017). It is clear from this statement that all of Heavenly Father’s children have a “divine destiny.”

new baby

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains, “And as with Abraham, so with all the prophets, and for that matter so, to one degree or another, with the whole house of Israel and with all the members of the Lord’s earthly church—all are participants in the blessings of foreordination” (“God Foreordains His Prophets and His People,” Ensign, May 1974).

How Do We Recognize God’s Individual Will for Us?

The key way that God reveals His will is through ongoing revelation. Mormon explains that angels declare “the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. And by so doing the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts” (Moroni 7:31-32).

Then, we do precisely what the young Nephi did: “I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father” (1 Nephi 2:16). We need to heed Nephi’s counsel to his brothers: “If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you” (1 Nephi 15:11).


President Russell M. Nelson recently reiterated this same type of counsel: “Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation’ ” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018).

Jesus Christ

One lesson that we can learn from John’s Revelation is the importance for us to believe, understand, and heed the revelatory words of both ancient and modern Apostles and Prophets. The next lesson is that we need to seek personal revelation for own lives. Let us remember the words of Elder John A. Widtsoe, “Give me faith, the greater knowledge; Father, bless me as I pray” (“Lead Me into Life Eternal,” Hymns, no. 45).